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Jason Witten Reportedly 'Blindsided' Cowboys by Retiring During 2018 NFL Draft

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistApril 27, 2018

ARLINGTON, TX - DECEMBER 24:  Jason Witten #82 of the Dallas Cowboys is tackled by Shaquill Griffin #26 of the Seattle Seahawks in the second half at AT&T Stadium on December 24, 2017 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten is planning on retiring and becoming an analyst for ESPN's Monday Night Football, according to Chris Mortensen of ESPN.

And the news reportedly came as a shock to the Cowboys:

Clarence Hill Jr @clarencehilljr

Cowboys were not prepared for Jason Witten to retire. The irony is he blindsided them late in process like they did Dez Bryant. What will make you laugh will make you cry. He did what was best for him in terms of timing. It ain't personal its business.

Dane Brugler @dpbrugler

No, I'm told the Cowboys didn't know ahead of time. TE is now in play for Dallas tonight in the 2nd and 3rd rounds. https://t.co/tjGXaQZioq

Mortensen reported that Witten would have a meeting with owner Jerry Jones to discuss his decision, with David Moore of the Dallas Morning News adding that it already took place: 

David Moore @DavidMooreDMN

Source: Jason Witten has had his meeting with Jerry Jones to discuss retirement. No final announcement has emerged, but all signs point to Witten leaving for the TV booth, as first reported by ESPN.

It isn't surprising that the Cowboys didn't see Witten's career change coming.

"There's been a lot of things [said] over the years, especially the last few months. I guess that's what happens when you get old," Witten said last week, per Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News. "Hopefully I can play until I'm 40. I'll take it one day at a time. My plan is to be here with the Cowboys. Absolutely."

Charean Williams of Pro Football Talk added, "As recently as Tuesday, Jason Witten was not talking retirement. He hid this well if he was thinking about it then."

One thing that isn't surprising, however, is a former Cowboys' great making the transition to the broadcasting booth, as Jonathan Jones of SI.com noted:

Jonathan Jones @jjones9

Aikman at FOX. Romo at CBS. Witten at ESPN. The top color guy for almost every network's NFL coverage is a lifelong Cowboy

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Witten likely will be a first-ballot Hall of Famer. The 35-year-old will finish his career with 1,152 receptions for 12,448 yards and 68 touchdowns. He hasn't missed a game since his rookie season, the only game he missed in his career. The 11-time Pro Bowler is fourth on the all-time receptions list and second among tight ends behind only Tony Gonzalez (1,325).

His departure comes after the team released wideout Dez Bryant this offseason, meaning Dak Prescott will be without his two top options in the passing game from 2017. Suffice to say, the Cowboys likely will address both tight end and wide receiver in the upcoming rounds of the NFL draft.

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